March 17, 1992
THE MARQUEE: THE BEASTIE BOYS
BY ADAM SWEETING
It's a short trip from fame to farce. The Beastie Boys' star sped to its zenith in 1987, when their Licensed To Ill album was the first rap album to top the US charts. It generated the Boys' trademark hit single, Fight For Your Right (To Party), where metal met nursery-rap.
A second album, Paul's Boutique, appeared in 1989, but it already had a posthumous feel, with the group in ruins and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz getting stuck into an acting career. But out of the blue, they're back, with an album promised for next month, and this show to demonstrate that they really do exist.
The Marquee was more or less packed, though partly with Americans, arousing the suspicion that the Boys had jumboed in some hired help to prevent a no-fans debacle. Scientists researching the theory that rap doesn't work well as a live experience would have uncovered ample corroborating evidence here. There was a woeful sense of motions being gone through as the threesome did their familiar head-butting prowls round the stage, barking syncopated gibberish into their microphones.
The inkling of teen-anarchy which fuelled the original Beastie boom was nowhere to be found, with the Boys (Horovitz in particular) looking knackered and rather glum. "What's the time?" they chorused. "Time to get ill," replied some of the crowd, not very convincingly.
It's disorientating to watch people sing over backing tracks and bits of scratching, and the Beastie sound was scarcely awesome in any case. There were thwacky drums and one or two sickening bass frequencies, but little in the way of full metal terror or fuzzbox holocaust. The new material left you panting for less.
Once they'd left the stage, the house breathed a sigh of relief and got on with the serious business of music-biz gossip.
Excerpt from The Independent
March 22, 1992
BY BEN THOMPSON
...Lou Reed was not the only great Jewish New Yorker with a talent for self-mythologising to touch down on British shores this week. The name Beastie Boys does not strike terror into VW owners like it used to, but that is probably no bad thing. Beastie-Boy image building was too effective for its own good; they so convinced everyone of what hooligans they were, that when genuine hooligans felt obliged to step in and throw beer cans at them, they got little sympathy.
There's not a giant inflatable penis or a caged woman in sight when the Beasties bounce onstage at The Marquee for their first British show in five years. It's hard to believe anyone could have been outraged by them; they look so small and fresh-faced. I suppose that was one reason they did so much to broaden rap's constituency: if three such well brought-up white boys needed only a passing acquaintance with it to undermine the very foundations of civilisation, then it must have had something going for it. The other reason is that they are extremely talented.
They're threatening to take their real instruments out of mothballs to tour with their forthcoming third album, Check Your Head, but for the moment it's just the three of them, their mikes and their benign DJ, Hurricane. MCA (Adam Yauch), the husky one, enveloped in a parka, seems slightly bemused by the stage-divers who keep stepping up to shake his hand, and periodically hurls himself into the crowd to find out what drives them. The other two, whiney-voiced Beasties, woolly hats pulled down over their eyes, circle the tiny stage with a series of extravagant leaps. Mike D's loose dungaree strap whirls like a helicoptor rotor, making him look like a wind-up toy. "Got more stories than JD's got Salinger, I hold the title and you are the challenger,": behind the infectious nursery-rhyme dumbness lies a determination to break down the barriers between high and low culture.
Lou Reed plays Hammersmith Odeon (081-748 4081) tonight, Mon, Wed-Fri, and reads from his collected lyrics ('Between Thought and Expression', Viking, pounds 14.99) at the Lyttelton Theatre (071-928 2252) on Tues. The Beastie Boys will tour in June.